The astrology of 2022 holds the tantalising promise of the birthing of that dream that has been slowly taking form during months of relentless oppositions in 2021, both astrologically and literally. Whilst researching the main celestial events of the year, I was struck by how archetypal astrologer Vanessa Couto used the story of Penelope, wife of Odysseus from the Greek epic, to explore meaning in them. After all, astrology is one of the ways we can begin to understand cosmic order, to see the bigger picture of which we are just one minor part, and when combined with mythology, the stories that arise from the collective unconscious, we can really start to attune to the whispers of the World Soul and hear them more clearly and coherently. Having recently read the Odyssey (a lockdown project!) the idea of exploring the unfolding astrology of the year and its resonance with global events, then seeing them through the lens of the mythological adventures of Odysseus began to grow on me. But why the Odyssey and why now?
The Odyssey is the second work of Western literature, which along with the Illiad, tells the epic story of bronze age heroes, kings and their wives preserved in the oral tradition of the Aegean but collected and written down by Homer in around the eight century BCE. These tales of love, loss and passion, framed around the events of the Trojan War, still hold us in thrall today for they are archetypal stories, masterfully told. Penelope is just one of the vivid female characters brought to life by Homer, but there are many others including Helen of Troy herself, Circe and Calpyso, all of whom were famed throughout the ancient world, holding in their stories a piece of our collective past.
The epic is focussed round the story of Odysseus, king of Ithaca, who participates in the Trojan War and then is beset by many adventures on his return. In fact, he is away from Ithaca for 20 years, which as Vanessa points out, is the timespan between significant conjunctions of Saturn and Jupiter, the masters of time and rulers of the ages. These conjunctions have been considered as auspicious from ancient times at least, and the key themes and dangers associated with them have been preserved in the myth of Uranus and Saturn, as told by Hesiod. We saw one of these conjunctions at the Winter Solstice of 2020, which was also in the first degree of Aquarius – one of the signs of the dawning of the Great Age. Why it took Odysseus 10 years to journey from Troy to Ithaca, a distance as the crow flies of approximately 1000 km, was impossible to say, but nobody other than Vanessa, as far as I know, have matched the timespan of his absence with the epoch marked by a Saturn/Jupiter conjunction.
The present epoch making cycle began then around 2020 – 2021, and it was in 2020 that an exhibition of Troy took place at the British Museum, vividly bringing the Homeric stories to life with artefacts of the times and paintings depicting the characters and their passions. The Trojan War, which Odysseus was eventually dragged into, famously begins with the Judgement of Paris, Prince of Troy. He was asked to decide which of the goddesses Athena, Aphrodite or Hera was the most beautiful, and though all of them tried to bribe him in various ways, it was the offer by Aphrodite of Helen, the most beautiful woman in the world, that swung Paris’ decision in her favour. The subsequent abduction of Helen, for she was already married to Menelaus of Sparta, is what sparked the Trojan War. But actually it did not begin here – it began with Eris, the goddess of discord.
In the version told by Homer, Eris was the daughter of Zeus and Hera, but known for her troublemaking ways, she alone of all the gods was not invited to the wedding of an important couple called Peleus and Thetis. Snubbed but not disheartened, she arrives at the wedding party and tosses an apple into the revellers inscribed with the words ‘To the Fairest One.’ The dispute that immediately broke out between Aphrodite, Hera and Athena, all of whom laid claim to the apple, and as mentioned above, it was Paris who was chosen to settle it. The ensuing war lasted 10 years and resulted in the destruction of Troy, so Eris certainly achieved her desired aim.
In 2005 a dwarf planet from the Kuiper Belt was given her name Eris, and during 2020 and 2021, this dwarf planet made a series of meaningful conjunctions with Pluto, Lord of the Underworld, bringing up from the deep all that is disharmonious and buried in our collective unconscious. These conjunctions occurred alongside a series of oppositions between Saturn and Uranus in 2021, the relentless grinding together of giants, mirrored below in lockdowns, the clashing of polarised views on how we should collectively deal with pandemic, and a host of other issues. Eris and Pluto have not yet finished their dance, so it will be interesting to see what else they bring up from the deep this year, and in what other way this resonates with the journey of Odysseus.
But now to the astrology of January 2022 to see if the Odyssey is helping us to hear the voice of the World Soul this year. In December, Jupiter moved into the watery realm of Pisces, where it will slowly move towards Neptune (already there and happy in its home sign) in a conjunction that promises the birth of a new way in April. However, though the birth pangs have started, the process of bringing something new into being takes time and can be both painful and difficult. To the Greeks, Poseidon was the god of the sea, and in the Odyssey, he has a particularly antagonistic role to play, constantly thwarting the hero’s return journey with his storms. In revenge for blinding his son, Polyphemus the Cyclops, Poseidon, also known as the great Earthshaker sent particularly large waves and turbid seas to dog Odysseus’ voyage, eventually leaving him shipwrecked and alone on the island of the Phaeacians.
We too have been reminded of the awesome and unpredictable power of the sea, for on Saturday 14th January 2022, the great Earthshaker struck again when the eruption of Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’api sent a plume of debris up to 20 km into the sky, burying the northern part of Tonga’s main island under ash and triggering a tsunami that reached the shores of New Zealand, Australia and Japan. According to Nasa, the eruption was hundreds of times more powerful than the atomic bomb, obliterating a entire island in the north of Tonga and affecting more than four-fifths of the population with falling debris.  Volcanic eruptions, especially ones that occur in or very near to a subduction zone, such as this one, are not unusual, but still when the World Soul speaks, we do well to listen.
The Tongan islands exist as a result of plate tectonics and the volcanic lava produced through subduction zone processes, and new islands have been formed as recently as 2015 by profusive eruptions. Soil enriched by volcanic minerals have allowed agriculture to flourish on these remote paradise islands, which are also protected by off-shore barrier reefs, allowing human inhabitation to take root. However, humans have tried to dominate and control the natural environment in time honoured fashion, and overfishing, deforestation and damage to coral reefs have ensued, as well as a tragic decline in sea turtle populations due to over hunting.
Like Odysseus we have been reminded to respect the sea, and the fiery land, and all that they bring and take away. The themes of deep emotion, sensitivity, hope, psychic connection and dreaming are carried through Pisces, the river of the zodiac, and amplified by Neptune currently in this sign, but also delusion, sacrifice, and deceit. As the unprocessed emotions erupt from the depths, propelled by the fire of the spirit, they threaten to overwhelm and subsume us if we do not pay attention to both emotional and psychic hygiene on the inner planes, and to the proper care and custodianship of our environment on the outer. Odysseus paid the price for his own actions, for it was his greed and deceit in the cave of Polyphemus that led to him wounding the Cyclops and provoking the wrath of Poseidon. We too do well to heed the voices coming from the deep, carried on the foam of the oceans and the regularity of the standing waves. It remains to be seen how the theme of Odysseus and his wonderings will add more meaning to the voice of the World Soul as expressed through astrology and world events as they unfold throughout the year. Let’s see what next month brings!
 As above
 Homer, ‘The Odyssey,’ translated by E. V. Rieu and puplished by Penguin Book ( p. 123)
 ‘Tonga volcano: eruption more powerful than atomic bomb, says Nasa,’ BBC News 25.1.2022, available at bbc.co.uk